At any time, either parent or the child’s legal guardian can ask for a change (called a “modification”) to increase or decrease the amount of court-ordered child support. You can petition the court yourself with the help of your county’s Family Law Facilitator or a private attorney, or your local child support agency can review your case at no charge.
Please note, if you are not receiving child support services through a local child support agency, a case can be opened for you at any time. If you are currently paying child support, your local agency is there to help you avoid problems with non-payment.
You should ask for a modification if:
- You are laid off or fired from your job
- You get a new or additional job
- Your income or the other parent’s income increases or decreases
- Custody or visitation changes
- Your family size changes
- You become disabled
- You go to jail or prison
- You are deployed to active military service
You will need proof of:
- Your income and expenses
- Any child care expenses
- Medical insurance
- Your disability status
- Jail or prison status
- Unemployment benefits
- Retirement income
- Your current custody and visitation arrangements
After reviewing the information that you and the other parent provide, your local agency will determine whether a modification is needed, and if so, decide on a new amount of support. As a general rule, modification may be granted if the support order would change by 20% or $50, whichever is less.
If you and the other party can agree to the support amount ahead of time, you can sign a “Stipulated Agreement” that must be filed with the court – many (but not all) child support agencies can help you create this agreement. If there is no agreement, you will receive a notice to appear in court for a hearing where a judge or commissioner will decide the amount.
If the other party lives in another state, your child support agency may have to request that the other state conduct a review and request a modification.
Points to remember:
- Either parent (or a guardian) can request a modification from their local child support agency
- To request a modification you must have an open case (a case can be opened at any time)
- Your child support order can go up or down based on information gathered (the order may not be what you expected)
- There is no charge for requesting a modification
- Even if your request is denied by your local agency, you can still go to court to have a judge or a county child support commissioner decide your order (your county’s Family Law Facilitator can help you do this)